Cycle Of Suffering

Written by: AP on 21/11/2020 15:58:53

It has been awhile since the last bout of shredding from Reading was unleashed by Sylosis, with frontman Josh Middleton having placed the band on a hiatus in 2016 in order to focus on filling in as the lead guitarist of Architects following the tragic passing of Tom Searle earlier that year. And given that his new outfit was experiencing an unprecedented amount of success, there was no telling whether Sylosis would even return again to build upon the success of their 2015 release “Dormant Heart”. I had already given up on the prospect when, quite out of the blue, the thrashers reared their head again with their new single “I Sever”, confirming that their long-awaited fifth album was in fact imminent in the process. “Cycle of Suffering” thus arrived earlier this year and it was as though Sylosis had never been absent; they picked up where they left off with a familiar barrage of technical, melodic, modern thrash metal that, while it hardly breaks any new ground, delivers a strong rebirth for the British four-piece.

But while the sound of Sylosis remains largely as Middleton left it five years ago, it was inevitable that he would discover new aspects of himself and be inspired by his tenure with Architects. Just as he added a slight nuance of thrash to some of the songs on that band’s latest record “Holy Hell”, so too does he introduce some mainstream sensibilities to “Cycle of Suffering”, which is most noticeable in the grandstanding choruses that emerge from tracks like “Shield”, “Calcified” and “Invidia” that all witness him airing his rough clean voice. These are by no means breathtaking vocal performances, but they do inject welcome breaks into the restrictive formula that Sylosis otherwise continues to subscribe to. Still, the question remains whether there is enough contrast here to help propel the quartet from small to large venues and arouse the interest of non-aficionados as well. The fusillade of intense, drop-tuned shredding, sweep-picked scales, and noodling guitar solos that form the backbone of Sylosis’ music is certainly blinding — and honestly, the band deserves tremendous respect for their skill of musicianship. But when you look beyond the technical abilities on display, ask yourself whether the group has actually ever left an indelible mark on your memory?

Small increments like the slightly darker tone (Middleton & Alex Bailey opted to tune their axes down for the first time for this album), their increased usage of pick scrapes in Gojira’s vein, as well as building on the slower and more progressive elements heard on “Dormant Heart”’s closing track “Quiescent” mean that existing fans are given something new to chew on — but once the record winds to a conclusion via the monolithic “Abandon”, it is not like one feels challenged or provoked in any way. The usual standout tracks ensure that no one goes home empty-handed; the chorus in the already mentioned “Shield”, for instance, is downright chilling, the torment in Middleton’s voice palpable as he roars “When I’ve fallen / When the pain comes / I will be braced for the worst / So here’s hoping / You’re my saviour / I bear the burdens of the Earth” against a rare backdrop of atmospherically ringing guitars. Similarly, the juxtaposition of a classic Slayer-school thrash riff with a grandiose neoclassical bridge in “Apex of Disdain” produces another haunting moment, while the band’s daring to explore a softer, anthemic style complete with a symphonic backdrop in “Abandon” helps this song linger in the memory as well.

In conclusion then, while the dizzying technical prowess on display across these twelve songs knocks the worst of it off, lack of variety remains the bane of Sylosis’ songwriting on “Cycle of Suffering”. It does not mean you should look elsewhere for a fix of delectable riffs and rhythms to satisfy your headbanging needs, for few others are able to act as a recipient of your awe as consistently as these four musicians — it just means there are no traditional sing-songs, nor melodies that you might find yourself humming at random on offer here. No, this is pure and unadulterated melodic thrash like we have come to expect from Sylosis, for better or worse.


Download: Shield, Calcified, Apex of Disdain, Devils in Their Eyes
For the fans of: Bleed From Within, Himsa, Revocation, Unearth
Listen: Facebook

Release date 07.02.2020
Nuclear Blast

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